Game Masters


The third installment of the thrilling Nik Naks serial! Nik Naks are extra ingredients that can be added to any gaming campaign. These won't be found in the Player's Handbook on in the Dungeon Master's Guide II. They're homegrown, homemade -- they spring from the DM's mind just like Athena did from the forehead of Zeus. This time around, we cover the Timeline, the Travelogue, and The Seven Degrees of Ferranifer. Who? Read on!

Any good fantasy setting needs a sense of religion, be it largely implicit, as in Tolkien's Middle Earth, or a major part of the action, as in Moorcock's Elric tales. With the possible exception of Arthurian Legend and the Gaelic Myth cycles that influenced it, there is no "default" conception of how religion works in a fantasy world. This ambiguity leaves GMs a great deal of latitude in creating settings that are unique in flavor.

As many of you already know, I've been running an on-going D&D campaign for nearly seven years now. Most of the players have stuck with the same guy, or maybe they've played as many as two guys. The point is, after seven years, any given character is bound to have an excessively high Hit Point total. Eventually, one gets to the point where one must decide how to account for this. I'm in that spot.

It's funny. I'm always hearing horror stories about in-game rape, but no one ever seems to want to do anything about it – even write an article. In fact, it seems as though people are frequently surprised to hear that it's a common problem – and there are too many people who refuse to admit that it's a problem in the first place. This article is an attempt to address the problem, explaining what's acceptable, what's not, and what you should watch out for.

It irks me to no end when I open a fantasy-based game or scenario and find a necromancer as the chief villain, or even an archdevil. You see, the more I look at fantasy and sci-fi, the more I see the same baddies. Sci-fi is full of villains that assimilate and evolve, and fantasy always assigns hell to pay and blame for every little insipid deed. I've since come to an epiphany about my game mastering.

I've always liked NPCs. Those who know me might even say that I'm obsessed by them. There are times, it seems, that I'm more interested in NPCs than PCs. I've been known to get bogged down in describing some "off-camera" scenes involving NPC action. I've also been known to over-extend a bantering session between a PC and a NPC - sometimes the play-acting and dialog are just too good to let go, though such things may ruin the pace of a game. But, I'd also like to think those are exceptions, not the rule. And I'd like to think that my obsession with NPCs help make my games cool.

By sharing with the players your questions and processes in creating the world, you begin to establish the group as a self reflective container. Tell the group a description of the world and how it is a personal reflection of you: what your biases are, or what issues you are going to be looking for. Tell them that they don't have to bring those issues out in the game, but that this is what you are interested in. Often people follow the lead... the deeper and more personal that you set the tone, the more likely they will be to reveal about themselves.


Nik Naks are extra ingredients that can be added to any gaming campaign. These won't be found in the Player's Handbook... they're homegrown. This article, a followup to the well received "Nik Naks", includes three new additions: "Played By", "Quote of the Night", and "The Toss Game".

Should you allow a player to play a non-human character or not? In this article I attempt to list some of the pitfalls associated with playing these characters and how to avoid them in your sessions.

I'm 15th level. . . now what?

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